Not so Gradual evolution

11 Apr 2013

At ... is a University of Leeds study published in the journal, Ecology Letters, and provides evidence of rapid evolution as a result of environmental changes. Rapid, as in not gradual or slow, and not in the real context of the word.

Gradualist ideas on evolution don't appear to be threatened by this discovery although it does illustrate quite firmly that evolution does not necessarily take place over hundreds and thousands of years. The biological consensus has been found wanting.

There is not a great deal of difference here, we may note, to the idea of catastrophic incidents causing spasmodic and rapid evolutionary change, as the die-off of one species can lead fairly quickly to another species filling the niche vacated. This was however a laboratory experiment involving mites, of all things (soil mites) and concerns non-catastrophic changes to the environment. It could, for example, change as a result of human interference with the soil (cultivation, burning, skimming off the top soil, or adding foreign nutrients, and so on). The idea is to take the research further - using it in fishery management, is one option, and intensive agriculture etc.